Vamos David Raya.

7 May

Three Premier League games to go. Brentford face Southampton this afternoon before next Sunday afternoon’s rearranged trip to Everton (the biggest stitch up since the Allies took the field in Escape To Victory) and then the season denouement at home to Leeds United. With Monday night’s defeat at Manchester United still niggling, a return to winning ways against The Saints would be marvellous for so many reasons.

I’m not gong to lie but the game at Old Trafford really irked me. Perhaps it was exhaustion after the huge trek there and back. Moreso, one undertaken after leaving a family weekend away early. That’s football though. The journey is part of it and, being fair, the travel element of this particular long haul was a heck of a lot more enjoyable than the usual.

Pre-match optimism at Old Trafford eventually turned to frustration

No, for me Clive it was a combination of many other factors. Our own out-of-sorts approach, if we are being honest. Sure, show some respect to Manchester United and there history (lord knows, there were enough reminders of former glories hanging around the tired looking stadium) but this much? Some bright spells aside, we were largely on the back foot. Largely playing too deep. Unable to make any real penetration and lacking some of the usual spark. Where were the Brentford who dominated West Ham, obliterated Chelsea or ran rings around Tottenham?

Then there was Cristiano Ronaldo. He is the ultimate in marmite players. The pace and technique – amazing. World class. The ultimate ball tied to foot with a piece of string. The physique  – just jaw dropping. How can somebody be that fit and that athletic at any age, let alone at a point when most professionals would have hung up their boots? Truly, a model professional in more ways than one. 

For all that good stuff, there’s the bullshit side. The petulance. The backchat. The theatrical waving of arms. The histrionics. The ‘injuries’ and miracle cures. The snideness – yes, Rico fouled him but the initial move to that event was arguably started by the Portuguese show pony. On Monday, we had it all by the bucketload. 

As for the supporters… talk about entitlement. Talk about a bunch of fans whose approach was to turn up, shut up, wave a scarf and expect to win because they were once any good. Even the scheduled ‘protest’ turned into as big a non-event as the Mrs. Brown’s Boys Xmas special once it became clear they were going to win the game.

United may be sixth in the Premier League but of all the away days undertaken this campaign, it was the grand, fanbase and team I’ve been left with the least respect for. Say what you want about Leeds United (and we will over the next two weeks, I am sure) nobody could deny the atmosphere at Elland Road was incredible. What a noise. What backing for their club. Oh, the irony that on that afternoon it was Brentford who fell apart and saw almost certain victory turn to a last gasp draw.

Elland Road – raucous

Anyway, long story short the game at Manchester United has left an unusually sour taste in the mouth. And I’m sorry for harping on but there you go. Oh to have Thomas Frank’s approach of 24 hours to dwell on any result then move on.

The plus side being that Southampton this afternoon sees a chance to get back on the horse. To make one last charge for the upper half of the table. To potentially end the day in tenth place if results go our way. Something that will have even more importance given we go to an Everton side desperate for points in eight day’s time….. 😉  

Imagine what another defensive nightmare at Everton might do to the league table…..

So, what do we think for today? Barcelona bound Sergi Canos (there’s not anybody actually believing that, is there? ) and Ethan Pinnock are 4th out still, although word from Thomas is that Everton is the hope for their return. Otherwise, with Ghoddos, Zanka and Frank the Tanks also injured, we’re the same sqaud as Monday. 

The obvious change is one to a traditional back four rather than three with wingbacks. We know how well that line up has worked against the right opposition in the last month or two and would give us that extra balance in midfield. More, given how deep Christian Norgaard found himself at Old Trafford – at times he looked like a fourth centre back. Then again, I said the same thing prior to the Chelsea game and look how that went? Thomas Frank remaining one step ahead of everyone and I am sure that will be the approach this afternoon.

Of probably more interest will be whether Josh Dasilva makes a start. He came off the bench against United and the prospect of seeing him and Christian Eriksen together for a prolonged period of time is now which has supporters’ drooling. Two of our most technically gifted players in the heart of the midfield could be a joy to behold. Who makes way being the real conundrum. Four in to three just won’t go and Vitaly, who makes up that quartet, would be very hard done by to miss out. A wonderful problem to have.

Southampton won’t just roll over, of course. Like the Bees, they are also on 40 points. They will be looking to end the season with a bang after hitting the buffers in recent weeks. April saw just one win from six games played. A period that included the 6-0 tanking administered by Chelsea. Something as unusual in not just the heaviness of the defeat but their becoming one of the few clubs not to put at least three goals past the Stamford Bridge outfit in a month that saw our own Bees start that colossal Chelsea haemorrhaging. 

Its all our fault. It all our fault….

Still, for me today is all about us. The opposition an almost byproduct of needing to win. Of wanting to win. Wanting to get back to the brilliant Brentford we’ve been spoiled so much with in recent weeks. Of course we haven’t got a divine right to just turn up and win. To expect victory on demand. That’s where we came in to this piece and that sort of approach (see also: fans who thing success equates to stadium capacity) sucks. Victory needs to be earned. Fans need to be loud. Players need to want it.

It doesn’t matter whether we face Southampton or Chelsea. Liverpool or Leeds. The approach needs to be the same. From everybody. The fans got their part spot on at Old Trafford. Here’s to the rest of the pieces in that puzzle falling in to place today.   

I can’t wait for this one. See you there.

Oh, and if anyone needs a new song this afternoon, what about something for our own man in nets?

How we’ve missed him at times this season.

How good to have him back and at his best.

Granted, this one starts off a little bit Dogtanian but what simpler refrain than channeling Righeira’s early 80’s Europe classic…

Vamos, David Raya. Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh….

If nothing else, certainly less of a mouthful than the Christian Eriksen song which I still can’t get right. I know of at least one West Stand observer keen to drive this one forward. Top, top plan.

And until then, here’s the Manchester United debrief…

Nick Bruzon

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